Van Dijk’s Quality
Liverpool put in a fantastic display in their 3-0 victory over Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Sunday, leaving them just three points off the top of the table.
While the likes of Dominik Szoboszlai, Mohamed Salah, and Darwin Nunez have rightly received a lot of praise over the start of the season, there has been one player whose performances have gone under the radar so far this season.
That player is the new captain of the club, Virgil Van Dijk, whose brilliant performance at the weekend sums up the start to the season he has had on a personal level.
Despite missing three of the ten Premier League games through suspension this season, the Dutchman has truly become the leader of this side and his performances have backed that up.
Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at Van Dijk’s brilliant performance in the victory over Nottingham Forest.
Leading by example
The best way to lead a team to success is by leading by example, and that is exactly what Van Dijk is doing at the moment.
Van Dijk seems to have completely erased any sort of complacency from his game and is getting back to his old aggressive and imposing figure.
Against Nottingham Forest, Van Dijk was absolutely brilliant defensively and gave the Forest attackers very little to work from.
In terms of duels, the 32-year-old won eight of his nine duels in total throughout the game.
Seven of those were aerial duels, which played a huge part in winning the ball straight back from any clearances and suffocating Forest with the constant pressure on their backline.
On top of that, Van Dijk largely impressed in a number of other aspects of his defensive work:
Van Dijk defensive stats v Nottingham Forest:
- 4 clearances
- 2 blocks
- 1 interception
- 1 tackle
- 8 ball recoveries
- 7 aerial duels won
- 1 ground duel won
- 0 times dribbled past
That bottom stat is hugely significant, with the Dutchman being just one of three defenders to not be dribbled past a single time so far this season in the Premier League.
The fighting spirit that has seemingly grown in Van Dijk’s performances once again this season definitely seems to be impacting the rest of the squad too.
Following suit in their duel attempts were Alexis Mac Allister (9), Kostas Tsimikas (6), Cody Gakpo (5), and Dominik Szoboszlai (5).
Calm as you like…
As usual, it wasn’t just Van Dijk’s defensive brilliance that caught the eye against Nottingham Forest.
The captain’s quality on the ball was a joy to watch as well, with the defender not just being safe with the ball but also progressive in his play.
Van Dijk made an astonishing 122 touches throughout the game, completing 104 passes in total with a 93% pass completion rate.
In terms of progressive play, Van Dijk even managed to complete one key pass and 12 accurate long balls to the three attackers.
As mentioned briefly before, Van Dijk’s involvement in not just winning the ball back but also getting the team back on the front foot was ruthless repeatedly.
Forest couldn’t find a way to stop the flow of attacks due to Van Dijk’s dominance, and it showed on the attacking timeline of the game, where the visitors’ first spike came in the 85th minute.
With performances like this, I have no doubt that Virgil Van Dijk is more than capable of leading this Liverpool side to glory once again.